Northwestern Prepares for Primetime

Photo Courtesy of Brent Lewis

The first BCS rankings of the 2012 season were released on Sunday and noticeably absent from the list where Big Ten teams. Ohio State is ineligible for the rankings due to its postseason ban.

While the Big Ten may not be as strong this season as in the past, there is only one team that’s bowl-eligible at the moment and that’s Northwestern. The Wildcats sit at 6-1 after their recent victory last Saturday and will welcome Nebraska to Ryan Field this Saturday.

This will be the first contest between these two programs in Evanston since 1931. The Wildcats defeated Nebraska last season and with the focus on the ruckus atmosphere expected at Ryan Field this Saturday, it appears the football program is beginning to make strides.

The game between both schools will be soldout and Nebraska fans traditionally show up to venues in droves without tickets. As a source confirmed today, Northwestern doesn’t know how it’s going to fit the extra media members, satellite trucks and cars which is a good problem for them to have.

Northwestern may be going into this game as underdogs but the Cornhuskers shouldn’t take this team lightly. The Wildcats have one of the better rushing defenses in the conference and its rushing offense has become stronger each week with contributions from Venric Mark and Kain Colter.

“We believe we can play and beat anybody we compete against if we execute the way that we are capable of,” said Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald after practice on Tuesday. “Importantly, we’ve got to learn from what we experienced a year ago. There’s a lot of things we did well and a lot of things we did poorly.”

As Northwestern continues to work hard in practice, the chemistry level on this time appears to get higher each week. Not even a deflating loss to Penn State could ruffle the feathers of this team. Going back to the beginning of fall camp, the players mentioned how important it was to stay on track and reach its ultimate goal of playing in Indianapolis in Dec. 1.

The legends division is wide open and a victory over Nebraska would not only turn heads nationally, but it could possibly give the conference a legit team to represent in a BCS bowl. I could be getting ahead of myself but the reality of the Wildcats making a trip to premier bowl game isn’t as far-fetched as some may think.

Ryan Field can only hold 47,330 spectators but doesn’t typically sellout like other Big Ten stadiums in the Midwest. The Wildcats usually sellout Ryan Field when they play a visiting team whose fans travel well like Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and now Nebraska. Expect this Saturday to be a fantastic show of school spirit by Northwestern students however; they’ve been a big part of the team’s 4-0 home record this season.

“We’re very thankful for our student support, we play for our students,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s unbelievable to see that kind of support early in the [season]. I’ve got a feeling that they’re ready to get it on this Saturday. It’s a lot of fun to have that chemistry  and that kind of buzz, it’s really starting to feel special on campus.”

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